Confession: I secretly thought of myself as a fraud when I walked in the first four Pittston St. Patrick’s parades, wearing Kelly green and sporting shiny green beads.
After all, Jack Garr Smiles Jr. is a robust English name. My grandfather was Chester Smiles, also robustly English. His wife, my grandmother, was Anna Mae Mead. She was Welsh. My mother was Moran, an Irish name, though I never knew how thoroughly Irish she was.
I always thought of myself as English/Welsh. As Duke Tierney liked to remind me, I was a descendant of the WASPs, the Know Nothings, the Robber Barons. More of an enemy of the Irish, than a Friendly Son.
But I envied the Irish. They seemed fun loving, poetic, musical and quick-witted; joyously clinking glasses at the pub while the WASPs seemed stoic, dull, prudish and reticent; solitarily sipping brandy at the Diogenes Club.
The fictional club was created by Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Holmes brother, Mycroft, was one of the founders. It was a Central London club for men who “have no wish for the company of their fellows. Yet they are not averse to comfortable chairs and the latest periodicals,” and “no talking is, under any circumstances, allowed.”
But I won’t be joining the Diogenes Club. No more sitting quietly for me.
I spit in a tube, sent it off to ancestry.com and guess what? My mother, I learned, was 100 percent Irish. And my Welsh grandmother was 50 percent Irish. Her mother was an O’Rourke.
I am 75 percent Irish.
I had a little hop in my step at the Pittston parade this year.
I love being Irish.